The new Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Efiong Akwa, has vowed that the Commission will redeem its image and foster more collaboration with state governments in the Niger Delta region.
He made the declaration at the fourth Meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt.
Akwa stated that NDDC would do its best to strengthen the relationship between the Commission and the governments of the Niger Delta, to make them partners and not competitors.
The new NDDC boss underlined the need for collaboration with critical stakeholders to drive the process of development in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “The Niger Delta Development is ready, we have come up with a theme: ‘Redeeming the image of NDDC that will drive the Commission. Gone are the days when you hear of supply of desks and chairs, we will engage the governors, the royal fathers and other stakeholders of the region, so that we harmonize the needs assessment and set our priorities right and also get them tackled. There should not be any competition, we will work together as a team and the tax payer’s money would not be wasted.
“We are lucky that we have an uncommon minister that is ready and passionate for development. Luckily for us we have President Muhammadu Buhari that has a deep seated love for the people of Niger Delta region. It was for this reason that despite the political opposition that we have, President Buhari is still committed to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“Whatever we are going to do, will be a product of structured planning that will put all the energies of the Niger Delta states together. The Niger Delta states will be integrated, such that in the next few years, Niger Delta region will be a force to reckon with. It will be a region that investors would run to.
“I want to plead that the peace that is currently reigning in the Niger Delta should be maintained because there is no meaningful development that can take place without peace. We have the best behaved youths with what we see around. We have a good level of corporation from our royal fathers as they also give the youths a good sense of direction, hence with all these efforts, the Niger Delta region is poised for the best.”
The Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Ipalibo Harry Banigo, said that Port Harcourt was the investment hub in Nigeria, stating that the theme of the meeting; “Achieving uncommon Development in the Niger Delta Region: Road mark and Strategy,” was inspiring and instructive. We need the political will and commitment to drive the development plans for the Niger Delta region.
She lamented that the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan remained largely unimplemented to this date, decrying what she termed as the increasing rate of abandoned projects in the Niger Delta which she blamed on the frequent changes in leadership of the NDDC and poor monitoring of projects.
She said however: “We are happy that today we have a new and improved leadership at NDDC. We expect changes from the new administration. We expect to see uncommon changes in the region, especially as we have the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio in the saddle.
Banigo said that a Rivers State High court recently ordered that the NDDC should work in concert with the state governments in the region to ensure that stakeholders would maximize the resources in the region and get the greatest impact for the people of the region.
She said that State High Court ordered the NDDC to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before executing projects in the state.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, observed that lofty strategic intentions of government over the years have been translated into meaningful development for the region.
He said that it was expected that the meeting would provide inputs to the thematic areas, such as infrastructure development, environmental management, human capital development, security, agriculture, monitoring and evaluation.